Spencer Carberry, who will start his third season as the Hershey Bears’ head coach, held a Zoom press meeting on Monday, after three days of practice that featured 27 players on the ice.
The 15 forwards are Kody Clark, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Shane Gersich, Caleb Herbert, Kale Kessy, Brett Leason, Philippe Maillet, Mason Morelli, Matt Moulson, Garrett Pilon, Mike Sgarbossa, Joe Snively, Riley Sutter, Matt Weis, and Steve Whitney.
“The roster will probably be changing day-to-day, up to the weekend when we play pre-season games against Binghamton Friday and Lehigh Valley at home Sunday at 4 0’clock, and the NHL teams will be making changes in their rosters that will affect us,” said Carberry. “There may be scenarios where a guy hasn’t played on Washington’s taxi squad for awhile, and will come down for some games in Hershey for the weekend and then go back up to the Capitals. Also, when the Caps go on the road, they need the taxi squad to go along to really make it a day-to-day thing for some time.”
The extended layoff between mid-March of 2020 and early February of 2021 created a different approach to the start up of the new campaign, which will have a 36-game regular season that will end May 16.
“Our number one concern is injury prevention, because some of the players have been skating in Washington and others could be coming off seven, ten, 14-day quarantines, and we have to keep tabs on how each one is physically, so we don’t go over the line that might cause an injury,” said Carberry. “The second thing is to make sure they are game ready to compete, because there is a lot of difference between summer hockey work- outs and the actual games.”
Hershey’s 2021 roster features four of the club’s top-5 scorers from the 2019-20 season. Forward Philippe Maillet returns, after leading Hershey last season with 44 points, while veteran Matt Moulson is back for his second year with the Chocolate and White after, collecting a team-best 22 goals last year.
A total of 13 forwards on Hershey’s training amp roster saw time with the Bears last season.
On the backend, returners include 2016 Washington first-rounder Lucas Johansen, as well as Eddie Wittchow. Veteran Cameron Schilling rejoins the organization, after previously playing for the Bears from 2012-15.
Newcomer Paul LaDue posted 27 points in 48 games for the Ontario Reign last season, and is a former NCAA champion, with 122 games of AHL and 69 games of NHL experience.
Hershey will open camp with four goaltenders on tryout agreements. Alex Dubeau joins the Bears from the club’s ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays, where he went 4-0-2 in six appearances. Charles Williams has appeared in six career AHL games with Hartford and Ontario and brings 121 games of ECHL experience to Hershey’s camp.
Local products Padraig Carey, who dressed as a backup goaltender for Hershey in 2018 and former Lebanon Valley College goaltender Joel Eisenhower round out the roster.
A huge change in this year’s schedule has the Bears will facing off against just three different teams, Binghamton (12), Lehigh Valley (14) and Wilkes Barre/Scranton (10) in the seven-team North Division of the AHL.
“Normally this league is such a grueling schedule playing different teams Friday, Saturday and Sunday in many cases, but now with only three teams, we will know what to expect and how we can break things down and take advantage of some of the things they do,” Carberry said. “On the other hand, we’re going to have to be real adaptable when you play the same team so consistently.”
The veteran coach indicated his initial talk to the team was completely different than any he had made in the past, because of the lengthy down time between seasons, one that totaled 316 days.
“The last time we were on the ice in Giant Center was 316 days ago when we were preparing for a game with Toronto,” Carberry said, with a laugh. “I put that number up for them to see and underneath, I wrote ‘100’, because that indicated the number of days we have to take advantage of any possible playoffs positions.”
That led the conversation to the question of exactly what the AHL playoffs will look like this season.
“What I’ve heard is that there will not be a Calder Cup awarded this year, which is upsetting to everyone,” Carberry said. “What will the playoffs look like? How many teams will make it and what will the format be? I honestly don’t know. We will just have to keep doing what we’re doing and see how things work out.”
5 Friday @ Binghamton 7 PM
6 Saturday Lehigh Valley 4 PM
11 Wednesday @ Wilkes Barre/Scranton 5 PM
14 Sunday Lehigh Valley 1 PM
20 Saturday Wilkes Barre/Scranton 1 PM
24 Wednesday @ Wilkes Barre/Scranton 5 PM
26 Friday @ Binghamton 7 PM
27 Saturday Binghamton 4 PM
3 Wednesday @ Lehigh Valley 7:05 PM
6 Saturday Lehigh Valley 1 PM
7 Sunday Binghamton 4 PM
12 Friday @ Binghamton 7 PM
14 Sunday Lehigh Valley 3 PM
20 Saturday @ Binghamton 4 PM
21 Sunday Binghamton 4 PM
24 Wednesday @ Lehigh Valley 7:05 PM
26 Friday @ Wilkes Barre/Scranton 5 PM
28 Sunday Wilkes Barre/Scranton 1 PM
31 Wednesday @ Lehigh Valley 7:05 PM
3 Saturday Binghamton 1 PM
7 Wednesday Binghamton 7 PM
10 Saturday @ Lehigh Valley 7:05 PM
11 Sunday Wilkes Barre/Scranton 3 PM
14 Wednesday Lehigh Valley 7 PM
17 Saturday Binghamton 1 PM
18 Sunday @ Lehigh Valley 3:05 PM
21 Wednesday @ Lehigh Valley 7:05 PM
24 Saturday Wilkes Barre/Scranton 1 PM
25 Sunday @ Wilkes Barre/Scranton 5 PM
1 Saturday @ Wilkes Barre/Scranton 5 PM
2 Sunday Lehigh Valley 3 PM
5 Wednesday @ Lehigh Valley 7:05 PM
7 Friday @ Binghamton 7 PM
8 Saturday Lehigh Valley 4 PM
15 Saturday Binghamton 1 PM
16 Sunday Wilkes Barre/Scranton 3 PM